August 2009

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EMAIL INTERVIEW - Jeff Shepard & Ken Sinclair

Jeff ShepardJeff Shepard, founder of the Darnell Group (, has been active in the power electronics industry for over 25 years. Darnell is the leading source for strategic information and analysis on all aspects of power electronic and energy storage markets and technologies, including building powering. Darnell is the world’s only market research and publishing firm focused solely on power electronics. In the past 12 months alone, Darnell Group served the consulting needs of over 400 companies in 26 countries. Our focus ranges from small devices such building automation sensor nodes and lighting, to megawatt-class facilities-scale power converters. Darnell is the publisher of PowerPulseDaily, the only daily news service for the power electronics industry. Our daily news services and web site have over 50,000 monthly readers and delivers over 1 million monthly page views for advertisers. Darnell organizes a series of annual conferences, including the Second Annual Green Building Power Forum ( 

The Green Building Power Forum '10

January 25-27, 2010 - Anaheim, CA 

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Sinclair: You’re holding the Second Annual Green Building Power Forum (GBPF) just six months after the first – that must mean the First Annual GBPF was successful!

Shepard: Considering the current economic climate, the conference went beyond our expectations. The number of delegates and exhibitors, along with the strong organizational support, told us that dc power distribution in buildings is ready to “break out.” The participants were ready to come together and move aggressively forward to finalize dc power distribution standards to be implemented in commercial products by the end of 2009. That told us that we need to keep up the momentum and bring the major stakeholders together early next year.

Sinclair: What industries were represented, and where are you seeing the greatest interest?

Shepard: Building automation technologies are coming from both the industrial and commercial side, as well as the residential side. In the past, some groups have looked to the utilities to “jump-start” the home and building automation industries, but the general consensus now is that building integrators will play a stronger role. GBPF had strong support from both sides of the house, and we believe a synergy is developing that will capitalize on each approach. The EMerge Alliance, for instance, is developing 24-volt dc power distribution standards. A special EPRI/LBNL DC Power Partners workshop was hosted during GBPF that addressed standardization issues for high-voltage dc distribution. The ZigBee Alliance recently announced the ZigBee Green Power feature set to establish a global, standard technology for self-powered devices operating through energy harvesting techniques.

Sinclair: So where are we in terms of commercialization of products?

Shepard: A lot is happening on that front. GBPF highlighted a new class of intelligent universal power transformers and advances in solid-state lighting. Eaton recently announced its Eaton 9390 and Eaton 9395 uninterruptible power systems in 400V configurations. According to the company, of the several alternative power distribution systems currently found in the US and Canada, 400 and 600Vac systems are generally accepted as the most viable. These systems are said to allow consulting-specifying engineers and customers in North America to recognize significant energy savings and efficiency gains while employing proven technologies and architectures.

Sinclair: But dc distribution is not just limited to North America.

Shepard: Not at all! We are working with NTT in Japan, where alternative power distribution systems have been going on for over ten years. NTT’s Total Power Revolution campaign promotes energy management at the company’s 4,000 buildings. The campaign has included efforts to introduce energy efficient power and air conditioning systems; convert servers, routers and other IP equipment to use dc power to reduce power consumption; and improve energy self-sufficiency through solar and wind power systems. In 2008, NTT announced an official phased switch to DC power. Japanese companies like Fujitsu Component Ltd. have consequently developed a power bar and power plug for 400Vdc distribution systems.

The Chief Technology Officer at Netpower Labs in Europe talked about integrating photovoltaic panels directly into the 400Vdc power distribution system, and the introduction of the “Netlight,” a 400Vdc LED tube designed to replace conventional fluorescent tubes in high-voltage dc distribution architectures. So there is a lot going on around the world.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Sinclair: What will be the focus of GBPF ’10? 

Shepard: We want to build on the success of the first conference, so the aim is to bring together a broad but like-minded audience who are working toward the same goals. As with the first conference, we will have an international group of speakers from Europe and Asia, as well as the U.S. The EPRI/LBNL DC Power Partners will again host a post-conference workshop, which is free to all registered attendees. We also expect to hear papers about deployments of 24-volt dc distribution systems in commercial and industrial buildings. This entire area is developing rapidly as a business opportunity.

Sinclair: Anything else our readers should know? 

Shepard: I’ve mentioned before that the value of any conference boils down to the quality of the participants. With GBPF, Darnell Group has continued our promise to deliver the highest-quality content from the highest-quality speakers and delegates. At the first annual conference last June, attendees had the opportunity to meet and talk with top executives and technical professionals of leading equipment companies, as well as key technical and management professionals in the A/V and Security, Building Automation, Construction, Cabling, Electrical Systems, HVAC, Interior Systems, Lighting, Power Supplies, and Sensors and Controls, and related industries. Developers and property managers were there to learn about opportunities to reduce costs, increase sustainability and improve energy efficiency. The current economic climate, combined with an emphasis on green and efficient technologies, is opening up opportunities that none of your readers should miss. This conference ties it all together.


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